It's definitely the 1990's, folks.
Forget 1950's fads like pole sitting, goldfish swallowing or even phone-booth stuffing. Perhaps one of this decade's most popular fads could turn out to be Jane's Addiction concert stuffing.To attend one of the L.A. rock quartet's live shows is to understand the life of a sardine, and Friday night's Fairpark Coliseum show was no exception. Probably the largest crowd in that building's history was a menace to claustrophobics and clean-air advocates alike, making the show virtually standing room only - even in the chimney, er coliseum's, bleacher seats.
But get this right, people, Jane's Addiction is no Johnny-come-lately, flash-in-the-pan rock act. This tight core of musicians (probably tighter than many Pentagon mouths about the current Middle East crisis) understands what today's youths want to hear.
To be perfectly honest, I was (and still am not) particularly taken by the vinyl versions of the band's material, and I'm still a youthful 25-year-old. Maybe we're not supposed to see what an even-younger generation sees in the group's albums.
Instead, the band's material addresses concerns expressed by today's more cynical and street-smart youth. For example, JA's controversial (because of its supposedly risque cover art) "Ritual de lo Habitual" album shoots from the hip about the world's current collision course with doom on "Stop!" - "Save the complaints for a party conversation/The world is loaded, it's lit to pop and nobody is gonna stop/No one!/No one!/No way!/Gonna stop, now; go!"
However, when the band plays live, Jane's Addiction's music is universal, mainly because of its sound, which may be the prototype for 1990's rock 'n' roll - a loud, fast and brash mix of thrashing skate rock, punk rock and even heavy metal. Give credit for that sound where credit is due - the band's trio of steady musicians (Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins and Eric A), who usually receive no credit and press because of bell-bottomed bad boy vocalist Perry Farrell.
The instrumentals really shined on the shimmering "Summertime Rolls" and the deep-down funky "No one's Leaving," both of which received an almost rock-steady reggae beat from Perkin's precision percussion.
There was a huge philosophical inconsistency in scheduling the show, though. Why did the concert promoters sell so many tickets for such a show and then act so surprised when the crowd jostled, pushed and shoved its way around the coliseum, especially for the surprisingly catchy single "Been Caught Stealing?"
Fairpark security persisted in putting down efforts to create slam and mosh pits throughout the show, and insisted that people walking the fairpark grounds had tickets to the show. It just doesn't make sense.
Opening the show was Bay area trio Primus, which already made a major splash here opening for 24-7 SPYZ at the sadly defunct Speedway Cafe this past summer.
The band's sound could best be described as a Caucasian version of Living Colour, mixing funk, punk, metal, blues and humor into its hodge-podge o' music. Among the highlights in the band's terrific set were the metallic "Tommy the Cat" and the wickedly funny "Mr. Knowitall" ("They call me Mr. Knowitall/I am so eloquent/Perfection is my middle name/And whatever rhymes with eloquent."). These guys will be heard from.